Taking A Walk
The wind blew so hard that I found myself awake in the dark just listening to it howl and the branches whip through the steady fall of rain. I wondered if this would be the moment that a tree from our yard gives way possibly damaging the house or car or camper. I just pull my comforter up tighter around my ear, because if this were that moment, there would be nothing I could do to stop it.
I drift back off to sleep only to dream that I am on a houseboat on a stormy sea. It's fun at first but the waves begin getting worse and I'm having trouble not getting knocked all around. My dad is asleep through all this somehow so I try to wake him. I realize he is the younger version of my dad. My dad from when I was a kid. I realize I am the child version of me. The boat lurches and is nearly fully tipped over. I can't wake my dad.
I wake to reality instead, back to rain and wind outside and warm blankets inside.
I try to shake off the dream; the dream of a world so far outside of my control.
Unfortunately, I also wake to a real world that is outside of my control. A world where tree branches could snap at any minute. That's just the trouble my brain feels like focusing in on at the moment, but there are bigger problems. I feel a broader chaos and uncertainty.
A few years ago I was sitting on a park bench with a friend chatting away on a beautiful day with tall trees all around. A few yards from us was a picnic table with, by my assumption, a homeless man on the table top asleep on his back.
From the clear blue, we heard a snapping and cracking so loud it stopped our conversation. Before we could piece together what was happening or react with anything other than silence a large branch was falling from nowhere and landing straight across the man's stomach.
He reacted as though he were sucker punched in the gut. He kinda was. His body folded around the branch, feet and head lifting toward the sky. Wind, spit, and a groan spewed from his mouth. His body relaxed from it's contracted position and he pushed the branch off.
All the while we two also screamed and covered our mouths at the horror we had witnessed, jumped to our feet and ran toward him offering help. Asking if he were ok. I was sure ribs must have cracked. By this time he was up too, staggering away one arm across his stomach, the other waving us off. He disappeared down the street doubled over and shuffling. Thank God he was able to walk away at all.
We sat back down and tried to resume our conversation but our eyes were darting up toward the large trees all around. The faintest rustling was now a huge distraction. Plus, we could hardly remember where our conversation left off. The world seemed to change so much in five minutes, it took a sinister turn. We opted to take a walk instead. A moving target might be harder for a tree to attack, I guess.
So what do you do when the world seems far outside of your control? When you feel like you are being tossed at sea, calamity could strike from who knows where?
You can walk. You can peacefully walk alongside others who stand up to walk too.
The media feeds of all kinds are alive today with images of people walking together. Taking steps together, actual physical steps. Something happens when we walk along side each other. Something amazing happens.
Sometimes when my husband Ryan and I can't see eye to eye the worst move is to sit across the table from each other. We have learned to take a walk or a drive when we need to talk and the conversation is hard. We start moving ourselves in the same direction, and somehow after time, we can hear the other. Ultimately, we want good things for each other and for the direction of our family. Our hearts want to move in the same direction, so we move them physically in the same direction to help them along.
I hope for our country that there is less sitting across tables and more walking along side.
The day the branch gave way and struck the sleeping man, it was easy to walk with my friend. We were on the same side. We witnessed the same event and saw it the same way. We were already headed in the same direction.
It's harder to walk with Ryan when we disagree. But it's beautiful, maybe more beautiful even. When you can walk along with someone you don't agree with and hear their side, that's peace.
Find away! Take a walk. Take many long walks. It won't solve everything or maybe anything. It's a place to start.
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